LAKELAND, Fla. -- Justin Verlander and Cole Hamels engaged in the kind of pitching duel, albeit a brief one, that one would expect from them in their separate games on Opening Day. The Phillies, however, manufactured a pair of runs that stood up as Philadelphia's bullpen tamed the vaunted Tigers lineup from there for a 4-1 win Wednesday at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Torii Hunter's first-inning double was the only hit Hamels allowed over his three innings of work, a shorter outing by design as he wrapped up his spring work. By contrast, Verlander worked nearly twice that long, leaving with two outs in the sixth as he tried to ready himself for a 100-pitch workload when the season begins next Monday.
Hamels struck out three of the 10 Tigers batters he faced, including new Tigers lefty killer Matt Tuiasosopo with one out in the second inning. Hamels' only other baserunner was Miguel Cabrera on a walk immediately after Hunter's single. Hamels escaped it by inducing an inning-ending double play from Prince Fielder.
Hamels' performance, as well as scoreless work from relievers Chad Durbin and Zach Miner, held off Detroit's offense until Alex Avila singled and scored on an Austin Jackson sacrifice fly off Miner in the sixth. Miner stranded the potential tying run on second base when he struck out Fielder to end the inning.
Jackson's sac fly halved the lead that the Phillies held since the opening inning, when Jhonny Peralta's fielding error and Verlander's errant pickoff set up Ben Revere to score on Michael Young's sacrifice fly. The advantage grew to 2-0 in the fourth, when Carlos Ruiz singled and scored on a single to right from Ender Inciarte.
Two more runs in the seventh put the game all but out of a reach in a wild outing for Tigers closing candidate Bruce Rondon, pitching his second consecutive game. Back-to-back singles set up Inciarte to score on a groundout before Rondon balked in Laynce Nix. Manager Jim Leyland pulled Rondon after a four-pitch walk to Ruiz, Rondon's second walk of the day.
Up next: The Tigers could have their Opening Day lineup ready to roll by the time they take the field for Thursday's 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Astros at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee. Anibal Sanchez will finish up his Spring Training by facing a familiar former National League foe before Joaquin Benoit and Al Alburquerque pitch in relief. Philip Humber is scheduled to start for Houston.